• The J.J. Hoover experiment likely came to a crashing end this afternoon. Once anointed to be Cincy’s closer until Aroldis Chapman makes his return in mid-late May, a string of poor spring training outings left his grasp on the ninth inning weakened. Bryan Price turned to him Saturday, however, in an attempt to polish off a would-be victory against the New York Mets. A few baserunners later and Ike Davis made sure the BS was being hung on Hoover, walking off in dramatic fashion by swatting a grand slam off the righty. Hoover’s velocity has been fine this year (he’s almost exactly in line with his career marks) but his spring training control issues have not abated.
While today’s outing was a dagger through the heart of Hoover owners, they were wounded before. With Jonathan Broxton looking to come off the disabled list this week, Price had certainly implied that the burly righty would take over the ninth inning upon his return to the bigs. While he needs to be owned in all leagues as a viable “warm body,” tread lightly. Remember, Broxton is the same guy who saw his fastball decline big time last year. Correspondingly, his 4.50 xFIP was nothing to write home about. He’s pitched OK this spring, but there are little radar gun readings to corroborate that success. It’s possible his elbow surgery has fixed what ails him but I won’t have him active until he shows me a string of decent performances.
• Jose Valverde didn’t inspire a ton of confidence yesterday, but he did notch save number one as Bobby Parnell‘s replacement, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one (thankfully for the Mets, he didn’t allow one run). Papa Grande is tough to trust — his fastball velocity (small sample size alert!) is down from last year and there isn’t a lot else in his PitchF/X numbers that imply he’ll arrest the sizable drop in SwStr% from the last few go-arounds. He’ll be the guy until he falters (and he might build up a bit of a leash until then), but I’d try to sell him high the first opportunity I had. Unfortunately, there are no real standout options in the Mets ‘pen behind him to speculate on. Preseason favorite Vic Black will have to prove himself in the minors before he gets another shot. Gonzalez Germen has a fairly live arm but uninspiring rates either in the majors or minors. Outside of those two, it’s tough to find anyone worth burning even a deep dynasty league spot on. Jeurys Familia could be interesting if he’d throw strikes but that seems to be something he doesn’t want to do.
• Quick hits: Grant Balfour got his first save with his new club. His velocity monitors watching (it’s been down slightly to open the season), but as long as he’s the same Balfour of the last few years, he’ll be effective. The guy Balfour replaced (Fernando Rodney) also picked up his first save with his new club and only needed one out to get it. Jonathan Papelbon also joined the “SV club,” bouncing back from a rough outing a few nights ago. His velocity looks to be continuing it’s precipitous drop (remember when he used to throw upper-90’s?), however, so I’d stay far, far away. Francisco Rodriguez looked good against the Red Sox tonight. Turn back the clock good. A few more outings like this and he’ll gain some much more solid footing. David Robertson has been italicized. You know, to keep people happy.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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